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Historic Highway 80

Desert to Ocean Scenic Road Trip

Traversing 150 miles between San Diego and Yuma, Arizona, Historic Highway 80 winds its way through the scenic, chaparral-covered rolling hills of San Diego’s East County, coming to an end on the Pacific peninsula of Point Loma. Along this nostalgic route there are several charming towns and roadside wonders worth exploring.

1. Desert View Tower

Located on the easternmost portion of the highway, the 70-foot high Desert View Tower, built in 1922 as a tribute to early pioneers, welcomes travelers starting their Highway 80 road trip. In addition to breathtaking views of the desert floor below, the tower features a quirky Americana museum and boulder garden filled with whimsical painted animal rock carvings.

2. Jacumba Hot Springs

Soak in the scenery, as well as in the natural hot springs, at Jacumba Hot Springs, a small oasis featuring two pools of mineral water high in sodium, calcium and magnesium, believed to have healing properties for the body.

3. Olaf Wieghorst Western Heritage Center

Giddyup to the Olaf Wieghorst Western Heritage Center in El Cajon, paying tribute to artist Olaf Wieghorst, the "Dean of Western Art," who lived in San Diego for more than 40 years. The museum exhibits dozens of his paintings portraying the 19th century American West, including cowboys, Native Americans and settlers.

4. La Mesa Village

La Mesa Village is a treasure trove for antiques shoppers. There are also cozy cafes and a variety of restaurants like Bo-Beau Kitchen to fuel up for the journey ahead. Traveling with little ones? Climb aboard the powerful locomotive parked at the free La Mesa Depot Museum, the city's oldest building in its original form and the sole surviving station from the San Diego-Cuyamaca Railway.

5. El Cajon Boulevard

Cruise on to El Cajon Boulevard, the historic stretch of road that originally connected San Diego's East County to the water. Much like the past, today the boulevard is lined with restaurants, shops and the historic Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club. Stop by and order a local beer from one of the recently opened breweries along the boulevard.

6. Balboa Park

Continue the road trip to the cultural heart of San Diego, Balboa Park. Explore the 17 museums, walk through the numerous gardens, take in the amazing architecture and make some time for a visit to the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

7. Cabrillo National Monument

End where modern day California began: Cabrillo National Monument, the western end point for the historic Highway 80. Take in the ocean and bay views from multiple outlook points, step back in time at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and learn the history of Juan Rodríquez Cabrillo all at San Diego's only national park.

Lucky Bonus - Casino Action

Try you luck at two popular casinos offering exciting gaming action just off the highway: Viejas Casino & Resort, which also features outlet shopping, bowling and outdoor concerts, and Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center.

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